Transportation systems play a critical role in maintaining supply chains for effective post-disaster recovery. The March 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns coincided with a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Salt Lake City, Utah, resulting in supply chain disruptions throughout the region. A team of researchers collaborated with local agencies and transportation organizations to use this event and the community's response to evaluate the challenges faced by local business owners and the actions they took to manage the disruptions. Their new report assesses the potential economic impacts of a catastrophic earthquake in the region of Salt Lake City, with an eye toward helping small and medium-sized businesses increase their resiliency.

Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), Divya Chandrasekhar and Sua Kim of University of Utah’s (UU) City & Metropolitan Planning Department worked with John Downen and Joshua Spolsdoff of UU’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute to survey local businesses about their recovery actions after the March 2020 disasters. The researchers noted that while increasing risk awareness among businesses, the events of March 2020 had not translated into concrete preparedness or mitigation actions. Based on the...

Read more

Jai Daniels is a first-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) student at Portland State University, currently working with PSU's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) as a Graduate Research Assistant under faculty advisor John MacArthur. She is interested in urban livability, bicycle and pedestrian planning, transit planning, and the intersection between urban planning and the environment.

LinkedIn


Tell us about yourself?

I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, often referred to as 'Mayberry.' Living near the Blue Ridge Parkway and not having much to do, apart from spending time outside, largely influenced both my passion for environmental conservation and my desire to travel. This in turn influenced what I chose to study. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a degree in environmental studies and minor in city and regional planning. Now, I live in Portland and am in my first year of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at Portland State University. Outside of school, I enjoy listening to podcasts, watching movies, taking film pictures, and hiking.

What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?

As an undergraduate student, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, which sparked my...

Read more
Courtney Crosson and UA architecture students facilitate a mapping activity to identify current flooding challenges at a neighborhood meeting.
Photo by Eugene Lee
Courtney Crosson, University of Arizona

Short-term flooding from extreme storm events poses a serious transportation challenge in U.S. cities. This problem—which is anticipated to grow over the next century with our global climate crisis—is often hardest on vulnerable populations, including low-income and minority neighborhoods. The latest report from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), led by Courtney Crosson of University of Arizona (UA), advances national research methods for assessing flood vulnerability and prioritizing transportation improvement investments to ensure that no community is left stranded when the next flood occurs.

... Read more

The National Institute for Transportation & Communities (NITC) research consortium, led by Portland State University, has awarded $1.14 million in total funding for eleven research projects spanning five universities. This year we focused funding on disaster resilience (including transportation in the era of COVID-19) and improving mobility in marginalized and underserved communities. Several projects examine how emerging technologies can be leveraged to create safer, more sustainable transportation systems for everyone.

Understanding Connections Between Mobility, Transportation, And Quality Of Life In Refugee Communities In Tucson, Arizona ($101,839
Led by Orhon Myadar, Maia Ingram, Nicole Iroz-Elardo and Arlie Adkins of the University of Arizona

Data-Driven Optimization for E-Scooter System Design ($67,619)
Led by Jianqiang Cheng and Yao-jan Wu of the University of Arizona

Understanding the Mobility Impacts of Decentralizing Homeless Services on Mobility in Salt Lake City ($100,206)
Led by Sarah Canham and Ivis Garcia of the University of Utah

Pedestrian...

Read more

We drive on infrastructure from the last century, never knowing when its shaking in the wind might herald a collapse, while in our hands are devices that can communicate with satellites, capture high-definition video and sense the motion of a fly. To C.J. Riley, it seemed like the one should be able to help with the other.

Riley, an associate professor of civil engineering at the Oregon Institute of Technology, is working on NITC research aimed at using low-cost, ubiquitous technology—like third-generation iPods—to evaluate the soundness of bridges and other transportation structures.

The goal of his just-published NITC education project, Dynamic Evaluation of Transportation Structures with iPod-Based Data Acquisition, was to expand Oregon Tech’s research lab while simultaneously figuring out two things: how can widely available technology be leveraged to assess structural integrity, and what is the best way to teach students this process?

To address both questions, Riley established the Structural Health and Kinetic Evaluation (SHAKE) Laboratory at Oregon Tech. While exploring options for structural assessment, Riley put some new lab tools in the hands of his graduate students: twelve third-generation iPod touch mobile devices with on-board accelerometers, Texas Instruments SensorTags, virtual visual sensors, and a...

Read more

An OTREC research project recently took a look at gusset plate connections, the riveted plates of sheet metal that hold steel truss bridges together.

These connective plates have come to the attention of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), because in 2007 the collapse of the Interstate-35W Bridge in Minneapolis was the result of a failed gusset plate.

After the collapse, which killed 13 people and injured 145, the FHWA issued a set of guidelines for load rating — or determining the weight-bearing capacity — of gusset plates.

Historically, only bridge truss members were considered for load rating during safety inspections. Gusset plates were thought to be reliable based on conservative assumptions employed during their design.

For more details, visit the project page.

Roughly 20,000 steel bridges in the United States are classified as non-load-path-redundant, or fracture critical, bridges. This means that the failure of a single truss member or connection could lead to collapse.

The problem, says the project's lead investigator Christopher Higgins, happens when a plate goes out of plane. It’s supposed to be perfectly flat, but with too much load put on it, it can develop a bifurcation and go from stable to unstable.

“It’s like stepping...

Read more

During Hurricanes Ivan in 2004 and Katrina in 2005, at least 11 highway and railroad bridges along the U.S. Gulf Coast were damaged. When the water rose during the storms, wave forces slammed into the bridges’ supporting substructures, and when it rose high enough, the water’s buoyancy had enough power to lift off sections of a bridge’s superstructure and lay them aside like giant Legos.

To build bridges that can withstand the force of hurricane waves, engineers must be able to estimate the effects those waves will have on bridge structures. An OTREC project led by Oregon State University professor Daniel Cox examined the effects of wave loading on highway bridge superstructures.

Cox and co-investigator Solomon C. Yim, also of Oregon State University, conducted experiments in the Large Wave Flume at the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory at Oregon State University. They used a 1:5 scale, reinforced concrete model of a section of the Interstate 10 Bridge over Escambia Bay, Fla, which failed during Hurricane Ivan.

To see more details about the project, “Hurricane Wave Forces on Highway Bridge Superstructure,” click here, or download the final report.

The problem addressed by this...

Read more

The Oregon Department of Transportation, like DOTs in most other states, has an ongoing struggle to maintain public highways against earth movements such as erosion, earthquakes and landslides. An earthquake or landslide can close down a road for days, while highway workers fight to keep supply lines open and repair the damage.

In Oregon, particularly along the coastal roads, these natural processes are a constant threat to transportation infrastructure. The damage caused by gradual erosion is typically not detectable until there is a landslide or other disaster, costing the state considerable time and money to repair. New technology has the potential to change this. Many landslides, in fact, show some form of movement prior to catastrophic failure. A team of researchers, led by Michael J. Olsen of Oregon State University and sponsored by a research grant from OTREC, set out to improve upon the methods that ODOT uses to detect and prevent structural threats. 

Olsen details his findings in an OTREC final report. Click here for more on the project, or download the final report.

The research centers on a three-dimensional remote sensing technology known as LiDAR. Short...

Read more

Note: This article is the first in a series on OTREC reports that examining the intersection of climate change and transportation. We’ll continue with articles on other topics, including a regionwide impact assessment of climate change effects on transportation and a narrow focus on the effects on public transit.

Of all effects of the climate on transportation, the most costly results from flooding in cities. Flooding disrupts urban life, causing expensive repairs, delays and hazards to address. In the Pacific Northwest, these effects are projected to worsen as human-caused global warming brings wetter weather and higher water tables.

Despite these projections, little research had focused on the effects of increased flooding on the transportation system and how those effects could be lessened. OTREC opened the door to this area of research with a project called Future Flooding Impacts on Transportation Infrastructure and Traffic Patterns Resulting from Climate Change. The final report is available to download here.

The project brought together scholars from Portland State University in the disciplines of geography, civil and environmental engineering, and urban studies and planning with officials from regional government Metro. The researchers also included regional stakeholders...

Read more

It’s not shocking that bridges built without thought to earthquakes wouldn’t make it through a big quake unharmed. More surprising, however, is how much damage even a relatively small earthquake would cause to Oregon’s bridges.

In an exhaustive OTREC project, researcher Peter Dusicka looked at the most common bridge types in the Oregon highway system. Those bridges weren’t just fragile, he found—they were even more fragile than other researchers and technical guidelines had suggested.

Dusicka published his preliminary findings in a draft report last year. The final report, “Bridge Damage Models for Seismic Risk Assessment of Oregon Highway Network,” is out now. Click here to download.

Most Oregon highway bridges were built before the 1980s, when designers started to consider seismic activity. Dusicka set out to see what would happen to the most common bridge type, continuous concrete multi-beam or girder, during quakes of varying degrees.

To find that out, he had to first know how the ground in the Pacific Northwest moves during and earthquake and second, model how the bridge type would react to these motions. Historical and geological evidence show a catastrophic earthquake will occur sooner or later in the region, Dusicka has said, as the Cascadia subduction zone stores up energy that will be released at some point. (...

Read more

Pages